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How to perform a long jump?

long jump athletics
File photo credit: wikimedia


By Benedict Yeo

The long jump is the only known jump event in the original ancient Greek pentathlon and was regarded as a challenging sport. Athletes were even provided with weights to increase their momentum as they jump. Today’s long jump is no less demanding than its ancient predecessor. 

A good long jumper needs both speed and power. The athlete does a run up, takes off and lands into the sandpit. The athlete with the furthest jump wins. The long jump can be broken down into four phases – the run up, the takeoff, flight and lastly, landing. It is exhilarating to soar through the air while doing a long jump. If fleeting flight sounds like an inviting experience, here is a four-step guide to set you on your way.

Step 1: Run up

In the run up phase, strive for consistency and speed. The long jumper gets a huge boost from the run up before the jump. The speed greatly affects the jump distance. The jumper must also take note to jump before the foul line. Otherwise, no matter the distance, the jump would be void.

Expert male jumpers take about 20 strides, while female jumpers take about 16 strides. For the beginner, start with 8 strides. As you approach the jumping board, do not hesitate and slow down. Maintain your velocity - you should be at top speed right before takeoff - and look straight ahead. 

Step 2: Takeoff

Your takeoff leg is the one that stays on the ground to support your weight when you kick a ball. Usually, if you are right-handed, your takeoff leg will be your left leg. When taking off, the aim is to attain height so that you can stay in flight longer and further. Place the foot flat on the ground for takeoff. Taking off heel-first will reduce your speed, while taking off on the toes decreases stability and increases risk of injury. 

Step 3 : Flight

There are a few techniques, namely the sail, the hang, and the hitch-kick. But the hang and hitch-kick techniques are arguably effective only if you can jump further than five metres. The sail is recommended for beginners. To do the sail technique, thrust your free leg in front of your body as long as possible. The takeoff leg will follow suit into the same position of the free leg midflight. Lastly, bring your arms forward, as if you are trying to reach for your toes.

Step 4: Landing

When landing, it is imperative not to fall backwards into the landing pit. Bring your heels up and your head down towards your knees. Jumpers often fall forward or sideways after landing on their heels. Every inch counts.

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